Wheel and Tire Trends to Get Shoppers Rolling

BY Courtney Huckabay
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"For consumers, tires and wheels continue to be one of the first, best and most basic ways to personalize a passenger car or light truck," Mike Imlay wrote for SEMA News. "And through a variety of performance and style options aimed at every taste, the specialty-​equipment industry stands readier than ever to fulfill their custom desires."

"The “2016 SEMA Market Report” estimates the performance tire aftermarket at $1.95 billion and the wheel aftermarket at $3.2 billion. The bulk of tire sales is concentrated in the midrange/​traditional vehicle and pickup categories at 21% and 23% respectively. However, CUV and SUV aftermarket tires combined represent just over 30% of sales as well."

Tire shops should be excited to know 18% of adults plan to buy new tires this year, according to the latest AudienceSCAN research!

"Not surprisingly, sales tend to be concentrated in the hands of online and brick-​and-​mortar auto parts chains, big-​brand tire shops and independent specialty stores. Wheel sales closely mimic those patterns, although sports car designs sell at a slightly higher rate than wheels tailored specifically to light trucks."

"Expect to see sales increase in the super-​sport segment. There’s been a proliferation of what amounts to track tires being made available as an option tire for even affordable super sports cars such as the Corvette.”

Tire sellers can target the speed racers. The most current AudienceSCAN survey found Tire Shoppers are 72% more likely than average adults to drive sports cars.

"When it comes to off-​road and plus-​size tires, however, the market figure jumps to a whopping $3.73 billion, with 39% of sales going to pickups. Midrange and traditional vehicle sales make up 17% of the aftermarket, with CUV/​SUV tires again hitting just short of 30% combined."

"Moreover, with the recovering economy, consumers are also returning to familiar pastimes—a trend made evident by truck tires. At this year’s Global Tire Expo, mud-​terrain tires were the rage."

There are customers looking to spend a little extra dough. The AudienceSCAN survey revealed 8.2% of Tire Shoppers plan to buy high-​end wheels for cars/​trucks this year.

"For 2017, automotive experts say that the aftermarket can look for continued growth throughout all of those wheel and tire categories. However, don’t go looking for any groundbreaking technologies or product innovations from manufacturers in the coming year. Rather, expect the ongoing refinement of two basic agendas set by automakers and best summed up by the phrases “less is more” and “bigger is better.”

Propelled by tightening Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, the big automakers are adopting the less-​is-​more philosophy for tires—as in less rolling resistance. Consequently, this is quickly becoming the mantra for tire makers as well, said Bob Ulrich, editor of Modern Tire Dealer.

Tire dealers can try talking up these trends in TV ads. The AudienceSCAN study found 42.5% of Tire Shoppers took action after seeing commercials in the past month.

All of the tire manufacturers are working on reducing rolling resistance in tires, since the more freely tires roll, the less energy is needed to move the vehicle forward, obviously improving fuel economy,” Ulrich explained. “However, low-​rolling-​resistant tires are not yet a trend on the consumer level. The more fuel-​efficient a tire is, the more trade-​offs there are in other performance areas, such as wet traction and tread wear. And if that isn’t enough to discourage consumers, fuel-​efficient tires tend to cost more.”

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.